Adult Swaddling Is Huge in Japan — and New Moms Are Loving It

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Motherhood, especially for first-timers, is damn hard work. Between the long sleepless nights, the weird hormonal stuff, and the gigantic cosmic shift that occurs in our personal lives, it’s entirely understandable when a mom waves a white flag in desperate need of a break. And who could blame her?

In America, that break might come in the form of a long soak in the tub, or a good cry and then a six-hour nap. But for moms in Japan, that break can now come in the form of an unconventional new therapy called Otonamaki, which translates to “adult wrapping” and involves wrapping the subject in a sheet while laying supine in the fetal position. In other words: It’s swaddling, for adults.

After the patient is wrapped, a therapist then rocks the subject back a forth to mimic a womb-like motion in order to loosen muscles and bones as well as release tension in achy hips and shoulders.

Sounds like a dream right? You can see it all go down yourself in this informative tutorial from the New York Post:

In the video, one participant can be heard saying, “When we tried it, it was very relaxing. We understood why babies sleep well like this.” Indeed, it is easy to see why, being rolled around on soft pillows while bound in a sheet may look odd, but it also looks oddly satisfying.

According to Reuters, Otonamaki was created by a Kyoto midwife, who “thought replicating how children are swaddled at birth could help mothers overcome post labor shoulder and hip pain.”

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The therapy has taken Japan by storm and is apparently quite popular among postnatal mothers. But not everyone is a fan. Reuters reports that at least one chiropractor interviewed, Shiro Oba, was skeptical about its powers of healing and encouraged moms experiencing back pain to see their doctor first.

The Japanese have a bit of a reputation for being fearless in the realm of new inventions. From umbrellas for shoes to square watermelons, all the way to karate, karaoke, and Nintendo, they are amazing at coming up with novel ways to experience the world and solve problems. So it isn’t totally surprising that the Japanese have taken to the problem of exhausted and achy new mothers and sought to find a creative and effective solution.

But maybe instead of rocking around the floor while tightly wrapped in a sheet, new moms could also get a night out with girlfriends to relax, or get a massage for those achy parts, or do what I do and binge-eat ice cream while scrolling through Pinterest and wondering how stressful learning how to do origami would be … you know?

However a mother chooses to find that thing that gives her the much-needed relaxation she so craves — be it adult wrapping or drinking wine and ordering stuff from Amazon Prime — I hope that every mom gets the time, attention, and support she needs to be the best mom she can be.

All that being said, I’m super curious to try this adult wrapping thing out …

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